The Saga of K.M Nanavati

This is a tale of an Indian Navy Commander who goes by the name of K.M Nanavati. A Parsi by birth, he had settled with his English wife and his two sons in the Metropolitan City of Mumbai. As Nanavati was a commander in the Navy, he was always away from home on different assignments. This lead to his English wife falling in love with another man who was also a friend of Nanavati, Prem Ahuja.

Nanavati’s and his wife’s relationship became so disrupted that she wanted to divorce her husband, but her new love interest was not eyeing the same objectives. On the day when the commander came back, he found Sylvia completely deranged. His wife Sylvia confessed everything and also articulated her concern about Prem marrying her and accepting her children.

On the same night Nanavati dropped his family off at a famous Cinema, and drove directly towards Prem’s office and then to his residence. Thereupon, he came face to face with Prem and asked him if he planned to marry Sylvia and accept her children. While he refused to take the onus for the affair, Nanavati proceeded to shoot Prem several times. Three bullets in a cold blooded murder, and Prem was dead. Nanavati confessed his offense to the Marshal of the Western Naval Command, headquartered in Mumbai. The Marshal advised him to surrender himself to the police.

Obliging the advice of his senior officer, Nanavati surrendered to the Deputy Commissioner of the Police the very next day. Nanavati had a distinction of being patriotic and morally erect officer who didn’t have any previous history of misconduct or criminal charges. Supposedly Prem had responded to Commander’s question of marrying Sylvia with “Should I marry every girl I sleep with?” – before Nanavati murdered him. Seeing a mistreated husband, the panel of judges regarded the accused and ruled their judgement in his favor as there were no witnesses in the case. case was literally Nanavati’s against the masses. The sister of Prem Ahuja and the prosecution decided to go against the panel of judges, dismissing their judgement of Nanavati as the incorrect one after discovering the affair of Prem and Nanavati’s wife.

Prem’s sister decided to file a case against Nanavati in the Mumabi High Court. The famous Indian lawyer Ram Jethmalani assisted the prosecution, and Prem’s sister is fighting the case against Nanavati.

This case lead to turmoil between Parsi and Sindhi communities in Mumbai. While Nanavati was a Parsi, Prem belonged to Sindhi community.There were a series of clashes between the two communities. The High Court of Mumbai, then known as the High Court of Bombay found Nanavati accused and sentenced him to life imprisonment. Nanavati challenged the decision of the High Court in the Supreme Court of India, but his luck has ran out and the Supreme Court stuck with the decision of the High Court.

At the same time, a tabloid known as Blitz was supporting the Commander’s plight, and the case caught public attention in such a way that 25 paise copy sold for 2 Rupee. Meanwhile,The Governor of Maharashtra received a mercy petition for Bhai Pratap,a big league Sindhi businessman who use to deal in the illegal import and export of sport goods.

The governor was a relative of Pt.Jawaharlal Nehru, Prime Minister of India and so was Nanavati, who was said to be a close ally of Nehru. So, the Governor seized the chance and came up with a solution. He struck a bargain deal, and said to the lawyer of Ahuja’s Sister that Bhai Partap would be pardoned if Nanavati was pardoned first. This would also assure that both communities are happy. As Bhai Partap was a Sindhi, so the Sindhi community would be happy, and so would the Parsi community.

This would also de-escalate the tensions between the two communities and would help in bringing law and order back to the city. Finally, Prem’s sister agreed and gave in to the government’s request to release Nanavati. He spent a total of three years in prison, and then he left for Canada with his wife and children and was never heard of again .He was survived by his wife and children until his death in 2003. This remains one of the most interesting legal cases in Judicial History of India.

This entry was posted in My Blog. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.